False Dichotomies and the power of AND

This morning, I read this article on leadership journal.net.  And, just as the author intended, it got me a little perturbed.  But not in the way I think he intended…

See the article is written as the “confession” of a mega-church pastor who is leaving “production-oriented” ministry for missional ministry.  And at the surface, all of that is well and good… I am sure the pastor at the center of the article, Walt Kallestad, is hearing from God and following appropriately.  But the article upset me because of the false dichotomy that I repeatedly hear in the church:

“Are we going to be ‘Attractional’, or ‘Missional’?  Are we going to work on attracting people who are not followers, or are we going to encourage followers to be ‘on mission’?”

Here’s the truth of it (IMHO)… no one should be one without the other!!!  There is no reason that any church, that is missionally focussed, authenticly helping people to become better Christ followers, cannot produce the best environments possible that also attract both follower and non-follower alike!  And just because a church has a high production value, and cares about the quality of the environments, does NOT mean that it is also not helping people follow Jesus in more thoughtful and intentional ways each week.

“Christians” have created this false separation; this LIE, really,  between followers of Jesus and non-followers… as in “if a service attracts ‘seekers’ (I don’t like that word anymore – it has become almost meaningless) then it cannot minister to the needs of Christians…”  The Lie says: A church has to do one OR the other.  Do you know what is wrong with that idea?

First… to all of those who DO follow Christ – the job of church is not to meet your needs.  It is to be the organism (the people!!!) that you connect to where you become more like Christ as you meet the needs of other people.  In so doing, your own needs are addressed as well. It is the collective that synergistically helps you accomplish the mission God has for you (see Matthew 22).

Second – there is NO “OR”.  The job of the church is to be attractional AND missional.  To create crappy environments in church buildings because “we’re not interested in ‘production’ only in discipleship” is an excuse for not working on the arts, media, music, talks, facilities, training, people, and choices that we offer to the world in the name of Jesus.  A healthy church is missional in its focus, strategically saying ‘NO’ to all programs, ministries, initiatives, and efforts but those that help people Love God and Each Other.  And it executes all that it DOES choose to do at such a high level, with such energy and enthusiasm, and so connected to the culture around it, that people cannot help be attracted to it.

So, to get back to my original point (you DO remember what that is, right 🙂 – the article above got my blood pumping because it made it feel as if a church has to choose… missional OR attractional.  The real power, friends, is in the “AND”… to be missional AND attraction focussed.


One thought on “False Dichotomies and the power of AND

  1. Chris,
    Thank you for communicating that so concisely and sharing your heart in the process…in a way that can be easily understood and embraced by anyone who wants desperately to follow the very example of Christ Himself.

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